We all want to be productive. And for people like me this involves a consistent commitment and sometimes even a struggle. What does it even mean to be productive?
To be productive is to produce a positive amount and quality of service in relation to the hours, effort and energy that is invested as an input. It means that the amount of input that you put into something evolved to produce a positive result.
I think everyone wants to be productive, but all of us at one point struggle with making this desire a reality. Today I would love to talk about what have been my own 5 challenges when it comes to productivity. And why not share with you some tips on what I did to improve.
Most of us underestimate the power or the effect of planning ahead of time. People might see you as a controller if you are used to this habit, but planning is in fact one of your best friends when it comes to productivity.
People find it hard to plan ahead for two reasons: first, it takes time to plan ahead, and second it takes effort to plan ahead. In order to know what’s coming up, you have to do a research or at least think of your future activities. You need to put it in paper and visually see what your days, weeks and months usually look like. Once you have recognized where you are at, you can start focusing on where you want to be.
How does planning ahead helps? It frees your mind, even though you might not realize, from everyday random activities. Having a routine consistently disorganized in your mind causes stress, and a lot of it. It consistently makes you think you are busy and don’t have enough time to do things. But if you plan ahead, you move those activities to a physical device that helps you free your mental space for more important stuff.
Not so long ago one of my leaders in the organization I volunteer for said the following: “Focus on doing what only you can do, the rest, give someone else the opportunity to do it”.
At first when I heard this I thought: “Whatever, I know nobody else can do what I do”, but slowly everyday life and busy seasons showed me how absolutely wrong I was.
Believe it or not, we can spend a ridiculous amount of time doing tasks that are not vital to our role and believe we are being productive. Have you ever thought that if someone else could help you out with that spreadsheet, you could actually focus on finishing your bigger projects?
As much as you like to be in control, the truth is that things need to get done no matter who does them. So you might want to start considering who you want to empower to take on some tasks. Sometimes this can take a bit of humility from our part, because it involves understanding that what we are a part of (whatever company or organization) is way more important than the part we play in it.
A good worker is someone who doesn’t necessarily does everything, but everything he is responsible for always gets done.
Some people enjoy working in silent isolated environments, other people need music or more people around them. Personally, I get distracted very easily, and if there’s music playing or people around me, my brains’ automatic response is to engage with my environment instead of concentrating on the task.
You might be like me or different, but do whatever is possible to make sure your working environment is adapted to your necessities. If you need music to get motivated but your office doesn’t allow you to play music out loud, take earplugs to work. If you need visual motivation, make a board and put it on your desk, or decorate your space according to what inspires you.
I’ve discovered that social media is the biggest problem in my working environment. I usually work with different devices, including my phone and my computer. But the problem comes when I think checking social media helps my head rest for a second, because we all know one thing leads to another and you end up spending 30 min absorbing useless information.
We believe we are able to do many things at once, but in reality, we can only do one thing WELL at once. You can do many things at once, but be mindful that in order to take a task to the next level, it will need 100% of your attention.
What is it that gives you motivation without distracting you from what you need to do? Find out and apply it!
So what else do you think can be a challenge to productivity? How did you overcome those challenges?